30 September 2020 The Irish Film & Television Network
     
IFTN BROADCASTERS SPOTLIGHT - Ben Frow TV3
14 Sep 2007 :
Ben Frow
Kicking off IFTN’s new series of broadcaster Q&A’s, TV3 Director of Programming Ben Frow talks about his early years on Richard and Judy, his fondness for chocolate and takeaway dinners and his plans for the future of the Irish commercial station.

IFTN: What television programmes did you enjoy growing up, did they motivate you to work in the television sector?

BEN FROW: The Avengers, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Black Beauty, Top of The Pops. They didn’t really motivate me, I just enjoyed them.

What was your first job in the industry, how did that lead to your current position?

My first job was doing the washing and ironing for Richard & Judy on ‘This Morning’ in Liverpool in 1990. That led to me doing some “slots” as a stylist on the programme, which led to me producing myself because I was such a pain in the arse, which led to me becoming addicted to power…

Did training/education play a role in your break into broadcasting?

Not at all. I was trained as a dressmaker/pattern-cutter.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

The power, the variety, the juxtaposition of marketing, scheduling, acquisitions, press…most of all the challenge of trying to get into the viewers head and creating a schedule that others (occasionally) envy.

Can you describe your typical working day?

Up at 6, in the office for 7. Read papers, eat breakfast, start thinking about lunch. Meet with press, commissioners, Chief Exec etc. Get depressed/elated over ratings. Eat something I shouldn’t. More meetings - promos, scheduling, Ad sales - have lunch and try to resist having a bar of chocolate.

Buy chocolate bar and start thinking of what I’ll have for supper. View potential acquisition, argue about cost of acquisition, determine not to pay more for acquisition. Pay way too much for acquisition and immediately worry acquisition will fail. Try to convince myself (and my boss) we’ve done the right thing. Determine not to spend so much in future.

Sneak out for a cigarette. Try to resist visiting the vending machine. Look through VIP magazine and bitch about the fashions. Rally the troops. Sign 25 holiday forms/deal memos. Worry that everyone has too much holiday, I’m putting on weight, we’re spending too much. Try to think of another way to make something out of nothing.

Drive home, put on pajamas, order up takeaway, watch TV and wish there was something decent to watch.

Bed by 10.00 – except on Tues when I watch The Tudors.

What advice would you give to anyone wishing to get into broadcasting?

If I can do it, you can do it. And don’t ever forget that, at the end of the day, you are a viewer too.

What is your favourite programme on Irish terrestrial television at the moment?

The Tudors. Camp, epic, sexy, vaguely historical…and Jonathan Rhys Myers. Add a Chicken Curry and it’s the perfect night in.

What do you feel are the greatest difficulties facing Irish broadcasting?

The influx of UK channels and the License Fee going to RTE – as well as sponsorship, advertising and BCI funding. It certainly makes my life more difficult.

How do you think the development of new technologies such as digital television and Hi-Def will impact upon broadcasting?

Probably negatively, but I’m a firm believer that, if you’ve got good programmes, people will watch you, whatever the competition.

Do you feel your station as a whole strikes the right balance between home-produced programming and international shows?

No, I think we need to do more home produced to give us a better sense of identity, give viewers what they really want, reflect TV3’s values and help us be less reliant on acquisitions.

What kind of programmes would you like to see more of on your station?

Lifestyle, documentaries, comedy.

How do you see Irish Broadcasting developing over the next few years?

I see it becoming more competitive, more homogenous and more derivative. But the quality will improve.





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